Business: Financial
Didn't buy store   (+21, -4)  [vote for, against]
A store where you don't buy things but might still get them

I'm sorely tempted to buy a new mobile phone... however I know that it's a waste of money. Time to get the best of both worlds...

Down to the unstore - I pick the latest model out of their extensive catalogue, and make payment.

A glossy photograph of the item arrives, with a numbered savings bond certificate below it for the value of the goods. A motto reads "I didn't buy an Apple iPhone".

Every month; much like the premium bonds, a number of lucky bond numbers are picked at random - and the mentioned item on the bond shipped to the person who didn't buy it.

Eventually, I might have a nice wall display of a new DVD player, wide-screen LCD TV and sound system - neatly framed certificates, all unbought. Some people might proudly display their unbought sports car in the back of their small city car. Others could scan their top-of-the-line laptop certificate and put it as the desktop on their ageing 368 machine.

Money is made in this system because the unstore makes more in interest than is paid out in prizes; also because prices go down over time - a $500 item bond if picked a year later may only cost $350 to fill with the named product.

Certificates may be surrendered without penalty after a minimum holding period of three months. Early surrender incurs a handling charge of 2% minimum $10. Certificates may be exchanged or used as credit towards new unproduct certificates once the minimum holding period has passed.
-- vincevincevince, May 05 2009

[v³] I think you could be on to something here - companies are always looking for the price-pont at which people will cave and purchase their goods - it helps them maximise their profits. Currently, all they know is that if they price their product at x, there's one set of people who will buy, and another who wont. If you could somehow entice enough people to actively tell you what they would be prepared to pay for your products, you might be able to construct a price/release profile that still let you milk the can't-wait must-have-nows, pump the ahead-of the-jones', glam-hand the hmm-okay-maybees and finally offload the dregs to the mehes - and all at the most efficient price.
-- zen_tom, May 05 2009

For certain items, this scheme could include a depreciation-linked cash bonus. For example, you buy a certificate for a new Ferrari and pay your £100,000. A year later, your number comes up - you could then have the option of receiving a new Ferrari, or you could have a one-year-old Ferrari (which the Didn't Buy Store have just gone out and bought) plus the £50,000 depreciation in cash.
-- hippo, May 06 2009

Putting the money aside for such non-purchases would probably be more effective as a means of savings, especially if you can gain (currently a very small amount of) interest on that money.

Prehaps an on-line bank could have this interface, complete with "I didn't buy ..." vouchers rather than having a prize system.

Have you heard of nationial premium bonds, administered by Ernie? This has a similar prize system but a better surrender value.
-- Aristotle, May 06 2009

My friends went to Benidorm and all they didn't buy me was this lousy certificate.
-- zen_tom, May 06 2009

hmmmm - sales tax (VAT) might be payable on these non-purchases... - but you could also save money by not buying an extended warranty on the things you didn't buy.
-- hippo, May 06 2009

I think, if I'm right, that the didn't buy certificate would be cheaper then the real thing because only some people will get one. More like a lottery Right?
-- dev45, May 07 2009

Meh, I ain't buying it. (+)
-- 2 fries shy of a happy meal, May 07 2009

[dev45] the certificates can be surrendered (after three months) for their full face value - the idea combines making savings and the consumer culture. You fork over your money just as in buying stuff; you get a picture and certificate for the thing you would otherwise have bought; you may actually end up getting the thing you purchased; and at the end of the day - you still have the bond element of the certificate which is a form of savings.
-- vincevincevince, May 07 2009

There's a careful balance to be achieved if this is to work:

The certificate price needs to be substantially less than the cost of the item, otherwise I'd just go and buy the item.

The rate of return needs to be high enough that I'm in with a good chance of winning the item, otherwise I'd buy premium bonds.

The (UK) gaming laws limit the payout to maximum 25% (I think) of the total stake. That means if I used the store regularly, I'd be spending on average 4 times what I would by just buying the stuff.

I'm not sure who your target market is.
-- Twizz, May 07 2009

[Twizz] // The certificate price needs to be substantially less than the cost of the item, otherwise I'd just go and buy the item. // I think you missed that these certificates are also bonds which can be redeemed for the full face value (or slightly less if within three months of purchase). If you buy the item there is no way you will get back the face value of the item again.
-- vincevincevince, May 07 2009

Would the certificate have to be surrendered in the original packaging?

How is this different from a raffle?
-- egbert, May 07 2009

[egbert] - original packaging not required; just return of the bond certificate part along with details of payee. In a raffle, you are not able to get back your money at some point in the future - once it's spent it's gone.
-- vincevincevince, May 07 2009

I really, really like this idea.

We put off buying a $300 stand mixer for so long our skills moved beyond our needing one. My wife really wanted it for the dough hook and I wanted it for the meat grinder.

I'm going to start a savings account for all such non- purchases.
-- nomocrow, May 07 2009

Another difference between this and a raffle, is that the unstore will eventually redeem *all* of the bonds it has sold. A raffle only redeems one ticket, and the other tickets become worthless.

For any given bond, this probably won't occur until after the customer's payment to the unstore (and the interest the unstore made in investing that money) exceeds the cost of the product... but it will *eventually* happen... assuming that the product's cost goes up slower than the earnings on the interest.

Of course, if the unstore is *required* to redeem a certain number of bonds every month, there's a chance it could lose money, if merchandise costs have risen faster (due to inflation) than its investments.

But they can avoid this if they carefully select items for their catalogue -- only choosing those which they are certain will go down in cost, or at least go up in cost less than the rate of inflation.
-- goldbb, Jun 09 2009

Isn't this just a lottery?
-- simonj, Jun 10 2009

[+] This reminds me of how some of the more "common" folks in my neighborhood hover around the 7-11 like vultures when it's time to dispose of their perishables.
-- Jscotty, Jun 10 2009

random, halfbakery